So I was in the pool yesterday and I noticed the guy next to me had a IM70.3 Miami water bottle. When he stopped for a second, I asked him about it, as we had originally considered racing Miami this year (instead, we signed up for Silverman). We chatted for a second, but he had to get back swimming so his coach wouldn't be mad due to the extended rest.
He finished up his swim as I was finishing up an interval (woo pyramid sets) and we got to talking more about triathlon and the longer distances in general. I found out that he's doing IMAZ this year, his first full. As that was mine, I got all giddy and told him it was awesome, and what to look out for, etc. He shared with me his excitement and his joy that he was going to be sharing the experience with a group of five friends.
The interaction got me thinking about some of my other conversations I've had with my fellow triathletes.
- At Crescent Moon last year, I was in transition before the race with my friend Jeanne. It was one of her first triathlons (and indeed, may have been her first one in open-water), so she was asking me a ton of questions. A few other people near us were also newbies and joined in on the conversation.
- All the conversations we had with Scott in his lead-up to IM Coeur d'Alene this year.
- A few years back, I saw a woman with an IM Kona bag in the locker room at the gym. I asked her about it; I don't even remember her response, but I remember that she pretty much brushed me off, giving me a curt reply before walking off.
Both the experience yesterday as well as the one at Crescent Moon made me realize how much I missed having guiding voices in my triathlon journey. Sure, I had a few - thanks, Kris! - but in general, I feel like I had more negative experiences than positive ones in the early part of my triathlon journey.
I will be the first one to tell you that I am no triathlon expert. However, since I enjoy the sport and have a ton of experiences to share within it, I will actually open my mouth and talk with you about tris (not a common experience if you know me in the non-internet world).
So, fellow triathletes (and endurance athletes and athletes in general), I say to you this: if another person asks you about your Ironman hat, or your marathon t-shirt, or whatever, be nice. Be welcoming. Do you really want to be the woman I encountered at my first Oly back in the day, where I accidentally knocked her helmet off her bike and she about bit my head off? I barely knew what I was doing! I obviously didn't mean to brush her stuff!
(I could have been just as mean to my rack mates at one of the Boulder Tri Series races a few years back, when I came back into transition and my stuff was EVERYWHERE, but really, what's the point?)
Remember, we were all new once, whether it was last year or 15 years ago. You may not have been nervous setting up that first transition, but let me tell you, a lot of the rest of us were. If someone talks to you pre-race? Try to talk to that same person post-race, ask how it went - s/he'll be thrilled that you asked, and will then maybe be inspired to share the welcoming vibe with the next person.